In 1974, editors John Tierney ’75, Christopher Buckley ’75, and Eric Goodman ’75 celebrated the second anniversary of the Yale Daily News Magazine by commissioning short musings on the theme of the Apocalypse from some of the country’s most distinguished writers — so distinguished, in fact, that the college kids were willing to fork out a dollar for each of their words. Here’s our second installment of “The End of the World: In 20 Words or Less”:
The end of the world will occur when I die. After that it’s every man for himself.
– Bernard Malamud
The Last Day
End of the world — cosy, something thrilling
Read in a boy’s book, heard on the radio:
Wells or Elles, apocalyptico—
Cathartic, buildings crashing, voices shrilling,
And me outside the frame, clutching the shilling
Shocker, in an incandescent glow,
Knowing this the ultimate frisson: below
The cindered earth, me saved somehow, God willing.
It will not be that way: no Gabriel’s horn
Over the snarled traffic. A whimper, rather,
Lon-drawn and boring. Ravaged earth, forlorn
With crops parched, seas a polluted lather.
A man says: “This is the end,” for days. But never
Sure. The end could linger on for ever.
– Anthony Burgess
PS Buy yourselves a nice drink with the money.
Dear Mr. Buckley,
Thank you for your letter of February 8th. Frankly, even if I had the time to write something I would not feel like doing it. Why ask people what they think about the end of the world? That may take care of itself, things being as they are, regardless of what people think about it. To ask people what they think about how to avoid the end of the world would seem to me a better idea. But even about that a short statement will hardly be too weighty.